James Francis Pendergast (1856 – November 10, 1911) was a Democratic politician who was to be the first Big City Boss of Kansas City, Missouri. He was the elder brother of Thomas J. Pendergast and Michael J. Pendergast.
Pendergast was born in Gallipolis, Ohio. His family moved to St. Joseph, Missouri in 1859. He moved to Kansas City in 1876. After winning a horse race on a long shot called "Climax" he opened a saloon named for the horse in the West Bottoms.
In 1884 he was elected as a delegate to represent the sixth ward in the Democratic City Convention. In 1887 he became the Democratic committeeman from the first ward. He was elected alderman in 1892. He was to earn nicknames of "Alderman Jim" and "Big Jim" as he achieved grassroots power by doing favors.
Jim's chief rival in this period was Joe Shannon. Jim's faction was called the "goats" because they wanted to climb out of the river bottoms while Shannon's faction was the "rabbits" because they hailed to the river bottom power base.